A face mask on a face mask.
Welcome to high school football during COVID-19.
Like others across the state, the Kohler/Lutheran/Christian co-op football team will have safety masks attached to their helmet’s face mask when it opens the delayed season Friday at Kiel.
Blue Bombers coach Ryan Eigenberger says KLC has been used to it for awhile now.
“As soon as we heard – which was halfway through August, I think – the decision came down, we started doing our workouts in masks right away,” he said. “We were trying to get used to it, so by now we’re used to it and it’s almost part of the uniform now. But there was definitely a little bit of a learning curve, a little bit of having to tell guys/remind guys to keep it on. But I think right now, they don’t even notice it anymore.”
And if anyone complains, all he has to do is remind them there are several a few conferences in Wisconsin that moved their season to spring because of the pandemic.
“Exactly,” the coach said. “That’s what I told our team, too. Whether you personally agree or disagree, it doesn’t matter. If we want to play football this fall, that’s the way we have to play.”
So instead of having to deal with the likes of Cedar Grove-Belgium and Hilbert, the Blue Bombers get to battle the reigning Division 4 state runner-up Raiders.
“I think we’ll be really competitive in it, just like we would’ve been in the old conference,” Eigenberger said. “So I just see a lot of similarities for the overall talent level.”
KLC, however, will be the only team wearing face masks during games because the Eastern Wisconsin is not making its teams do so. The Big East is, and since Kohler, Christian and Lutheran still compete in that league in other sports, it was decided the Blue Bombers would still wear them.
THESE GUYS ARE KNOWN: KLC junior quarterback Robby Michael and junior receiver Colin Girdaukas return after making first-team all-BEC last season.
Michael watched film in the offseason, worked out and got a lot stronger, according to his coach. He throws the football harder, too.
“That’s something a lot of the guys noticed right away because their hands were hurting,” Eigenberger said. “I think that has to do with all the work he put in, both on the field and the weight room, and kind of off the field as well.”
Girdaukas also worked out with his quarterback and performed in some combines. He improved his route running, increased his speed and still has great hands, says Eigenberger.
“His work ethic has always been great but he’s starting to turn another gear on, where he looks like that type of player that could have some success at the college level,” Eigenberger said. “He just always is working hard and going hard on every single play.”
Two other juniors also made all-Big East in 2019: Casey Verhagen (second team receiver and defensive back) and Tristan Moctezuma (honorable mention offensive lineman).
According to Eigenberger, Verhagen already has a basketball scholarship offer from Michigan Tech but is always good on focusing on football when the time comes.
“He’s looking real good,” Eigenberger said.
Moctezuma is continuing to work through an injury from last season and will not be ready for Week 1.
“He’s itching to get back and has been around the team, working hard,” Eigenberger said. “So we’re excited and ready for him to come back, too.”